My interest in this series was piqued when I saw the author tweeting pictures of adorable plushies! Turns out, these long-necked, two-legged floofs are creatures called orgo, which appear in his Orgo Runners books – so when he offered me the chance to review the first four books in the series, I jumped at the chance!
Book: Orgo Runners – The First Collection by R. J. Furness (a bind up of the first four Orgo Runners books, with a preview of the fifth)
Read before: No
Ownership: Paperback (and plushie!) sent by author for fair review.
The world-building in this series is awesome, and really unusual. It’s kind of post-apocalyptic, with an ice age having wiped out most of humanity and turned Earth into a frozen wasteland, with only a few settlements left. It’s extremely believable, and the environmental warning is quietly present throughout, though I never found it overly moralising. In this icy world, orgo have evolved, and can be tamed and used for transportation like horses (which seem to be extinct).
The story follows the adventures of three kids who are extremely talented orgo racers: Fayth, who rides Drift; Megg, who rides Floe; and Ink, who rides Bug. I loved their relationships with their orgo – I can see this absolutely enthralling kids in their animal phases! My little buddy in the picture above is Floe, who has a fluffy white mane that lets Megg ride him without reins – a tiny little detail, but one that helps establish Megg’s character early on!
(I fell in love with Floe at first sight and he’s been having lots of adventures with me. Check out #orgoadventures on my Twitter to see him getting into all sorts of mischief!)
Personally, I think it’s lovely to see a middle grade series where the protagonist trio is two girls and a boy, rather than the established Harry Potter-esque trio two boys and a girl. Fayth is the definite leader of the group, and I found her no-nonsense personality really fun and refreshing. She’s a really strong girl that I would have idolised as an 8 year old! All of the kids have different strengths and weaknesses, and I loved the way that Ink in particular was shown to struggle with some things due to his dark past.
Each book is pretty short, at around 100 pages, and the pacing is consistently fast and compelling. The first book establishes the Orgo Runners, when Fayth, Megg and Ink are forced to work as couriers between settlements because of their talent at orgo riding. It’s kind of like Ice Road Truckers, but more fun! Each book raises an obstacle that the Runners must overcome on one of their trips, giving them an episodic feel that kept me wanting more, but the main arc of the story also develops across the whole collection. Yes, there are the immediate dangers of the icy conditions, plus predator attacks, and so on, but there’s also, underneath, the deeply uncomfortable and dystopian elements of the setting. Fayth certainly isn’t happy about being press-ganged into putting herself, her friends, and their orgo into danger, and I’m really excited to see how (and if!) she manages to win their freedom.
The fourth book jumps back in time, with our protagonists learning about the origins of the orgo, and this is where the world-building really fell into place for me. I won’t spoil anything, but I loved the idea of how the orgo came to evolve! While I love the main storyline, I thought this book offered a clever way to provide more information on the world and keep things fresh. This is also the first time we meet more orgo than the main three, and I just want to see more and more of these lovely beasts! There’s a character who runs an orgo emporium, and I hope we spend more time here, because man, that sounds like an amazing day out.
The Orgo Runners has a captivating concept, adorable creatures, some amazing characters, and storylines that voracious readers will gobble up – good job there are going to be plenty more in the series! The author also has a YA series, dissent, set in the same world, which I’m very excited to read.
Five out of five cats for sheer fun!